Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Librarian (by Umberto Eco)

The Librarian

You must overcome any shyness and have a conversation with the librarian, because he [sic] can offer you reliable advice that will save you much time. You must consider that the librarian (if not overworked or neurotic) is happy when he [sic] can demonstrate two things: the quality of his [sic] memory and erudition and the richness of his [sic] library, especially if it is small. The more isolated and disregarded the library, the more the librarian is consumed with sorrow for its underestimation. A person who asks for help makes the librarian happy.

image

El Ateneo Library, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Although you must rely on the librarian’s assistance, you should not trust him [sic] blindly. Listen to his [sic] advice, but then search deeply and independently. The librarian is not an expert in every subject, and he [sic] is also unaware of the particular perspective you wish to adopt for your research. He [sic] may deem fundamental a particular book that you end up barely consulting, and may disregard another that you find very useful. Additionally, there is no such thing as a predetermined hierarchy of useful and important works. An idea contained almost by mistake on a page of an otherwise useless (and widely ignored) book may prove decisive for your research. You must discover this page on your own, with your own intuition and a little luck, and without anybody serving it to you on a silver platter.

Umberto Eco (January 5th 1932, Alessandria – February 19th 2016, Milano) How to write a thesis (1977) pp. 56-7

 

The Future University (Part VI)

Chapter notes (VI)

The following notes, taken from Ronald Barnett’s edited collection on what a university might be in the 21st century, relate to two key concepts (or possibilities) for imagining the ‘future university’: the first is the concept of ‘care’; the second is the concept of ‘wisdom’.

Like the notions annotated in the previous 5 posts, these two notions also foreground a vision of higher education which seems to me to be many times removed from the vision outlined in the UK government’s Green Paper.

Dall’Alba draws on Martin Heidegger‘s concept of care as a defining characteristic of humanness. She warns against having an instrumental approach to education because “of a danger that the pervasiveness of such an instrumental, exploitative view may eventually mean we are unable to understand ourselves in any other way” (p. 114).

Monkeys_dressed_as_apothecaries_caring_for_sick_animals_in_a_Wellcome_V0021454

Monkeys dressed as apothecaries caring for sick animals (Wellcome)

For Heidegger, the concept of care refers to the care that we have for ‘others’ and for ‘things’ in the world (as outlined in his book Being and Time). From this, Dall’Alba argues that (p.115):

Conceiving education in terms of care for others and things turns attention differently towards education. Not only does it feature what students are expected to know and be able to do (an epistemological dimension), but also who students are becoming or, in other words, how they are learning to be (an ontological dimension)

She gives the example of how knowledge of the built environment and nature requires both the capacity to learn and to care and argues that inherent in the concept of ‘care’ is the notion of ‘responsibility’: responsibility to and for others, the environment, education, research. As such, the telos of developing knowledge and skills becomes one of care and responsibility which in turn opens up new directions and futures, new ‘possibilities for being’ (p. 116-119). These new possibilities require us to become ‘attuned’ to knowing and to knowledge in ways that allow us to detect possibilities for teaching and learning, research, and outreach into the wider community (p. 120).

Thus, the purpose of a university education, in Dall’Alba’s vision, is to learn how to be, not how to do (p.122).

  • Creating a better world: Towards the university of wisdom (by Nicholas Maxwell)

Maxwell’s thesis is that the current dominant knowledge-inquiry model of a university education – 1) acquire knowledge; 2) apply this knowledge; 3) solve the world’s problems – is fundamentally flawed because merely having knowledge of and knowing how to apply technology, for example, does not entail the avoidance of destruction and injustice (eg climate change and inequality).

Establishing what 1) is the first instance, and then getting from 1) to 3), therefore, requires a further step, and that step is ‘wisdom’.

Athene_cuniculariaa

Athene cuniculariaa (Goddess of Wisdom and War)

Maxwell therefore proposes that university education endorse a wisdom-inquiry model (again, this is far removed from the vision of the Green Paper, but it is also far removed from the vision of what even a primary and secondary education should be about, as outlined in the recent statement from the UK Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, who essentially argues that ‘facts’ should come before critical thinking, as though determining what ‘a fact’ is in the first place were unproblematic and did not require us to think critically about the nature of reality, i.e. the nature of ‘facts’, whether physical, psychological or social).

Here is what is wrong, according to Maxwell, with a knowledge-inquiry model (p. 124)

Knowledge-inquiry demands that a sharp split be made between the social or humanitarian aims of inquiry and the intellectual aim. This latter is to acquire knowledge of truth, nothing being presupposed about the truth. Only those considerations may enter into the intellectual domain of inquiry relevant to the determination of truth – claims to knowledge, results of observation and experiment, arguments to establish truth or falsity. Feelings and desires, values, ideals, political and religious views, expressions of hopes and fears, cries of pain, articulations of problems of living: all these must be ruthlessly excluded from the intellectual domain of inquiry as having no relevance to the pursuit of knowledge

Maxwell proceeds to unpack this statement (from p.124 to 137), essentially arguing that the rationality we inherited since the Enlightenment has to be put to ‘good’ use; in other words, it has to further social improvement. This can best be done through a process of wisdom-inquiry in which wisdom is (p.137):

understood to be the capacity to realise what is of value in life, thus including knowledge, understanding and technological know-how, but much else besides.

[Clearly, this begs a whole load of other questions, namely ‘what is of value in life’ (ontology) and how to find out (epistemology), which is why, in my view, everybody should be brought up and educated to think philosophically so that at least we can articulate an account of what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’, even if ultimately we disagree with each other about what that account might be; but at least we would stand a better chance of understanding each other ….]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Future University (Post V)

Chapter notes (V)

The picture emerging from these chapters (see Posts 1, 2, 3, and 4) is one that portrays the University as a historical cluster of contradictory traits that shatter any illusion of agreement as to what a university was or is or does or could be. As such, Kavanagh claims (p. 101);

If identity is an emerging property in a network of relationships, then the idea of the University is perhaps best understood through analysing its relationship with other institutions over time (101)

and (p.102):

A “foolish institution” means that it is always defined by its unique relationship with another institution

In liking the University to a Fool, Kavanagh has in mind the court jester figure common in medieval literatures, including the works of Shakespeare (King Lear), whose multiple identities (both friend to and critic of the Sovereign), ambiguities (both sexual and intellectual) and unclear allegiances (both dependent on and scornful of the Master) made him/her a figure to be wary of, to be both ridiculed and respected.

Reading-jester-q75-760x753

The Fool or Court Jester: a Master or a Slave?

Similarly, the medieval university was beholden to the Church but that loyalty soon proved to be conditional as the Church lost its power during the Enlightenment and the Reformation and as scientific or natural philosophy societies, such as the Royal Society, began to emerge. As such, the 19th century university began to question its allegiances. It became influenced by Kant’s intellectual authority and his claim that certain faculties -such as law, theology, and medicine – were imposed by others, whilst other faculties – such as philosophy and reason – could remain independent and free.

Accordingly, Kant argued the it was the duty of the State to protect such freedom.

Soon, however, as 19th century Europe also saw the rise of nation-states and industry, the State-as-guarantor-of-reason soon gave way to the Nation-as-guarantor-of-culture. This university became influenced by Cardinal Newman’s The Idea of a University which established the view that the pursuit of a university education should be ‘an end in itself’. This notion further evolved into the idea that the purpose of university should be for the betterment of humanity, not just for the betterment of the nation-state.

The Humboldtian German ideal remained anchored to this view, namely that of the university as a place of human betterment, research, and scholarship. This is the ideal that inspired the American universities of the late 1800s (see my posts relating to this starting with the first here).

However, ‘human betterment, research, and scholarship’ needed to be funded and undergraduate study provided that income; it also provided the human resources for civic society, ie the professions and industry, forming characters to work in law, medicine, and engineering.

Archellino_mask

Arlecchino: Servitore di Due Padroni (Commedia di Carlo Goldoni)

And then came the war(s). During this time, universities were also called upon to serve the war industry, thus becoming ‘fools’ to the Military Sovereign whilst simultaneously being influenced by the ideas of John Dewey who called for Justice and Emancipation to be the Sovereigns of Social Justice, guiding and shaping the university’s identity.

Fast forward to 2016, and it is easy to see how the current entrepreneurial university, favoured and nurtured by the UK (see the 2015 Green Paper), has evolved from these many competing, fuzzy, tense, confused and contradictory identities, settling now on the idea that a University has to train for a job like some kind of elite recruiting agency serving many communities, functions, and interest groups, behaving more like a multiversity than a university (p. 105).

William_Merritt_Chase_Keying_up

Taking a break: which audience will the Fool play for next?

The university as Fool now starts to make sense. The Fool tells “stories that are embedded in a framework of norms and values that connect the moment into longer conversations over time and space” (p. 106-7). The Fool has audiences, in the plural (107):

First and primarily, the Fool speaks to his King, his Sovereign [i.e. his Paymaster]. Second, he also addresses other characters in the play [ie his Co-Actors]. Third, he has conversations essentially with himself, about his own position, and the Fool’s role in the world [ie Reflection]. Fourth, he routinely makes witty remarks about topical issues engaging the viewing audience of the time but which have nothing whatsoever to do with the play [ie Public Engagement?].

[my comments]

When viewed through the lens of the Fool, the idea of the ‘University’ comes to look like more of an oxymoron (ie trying to be and do a myriad of contradictory things).

But as Kavanagh reminds us (p.110):

oksúmōron actually means ‘pointedly foolish’.

 

 

The Future University (Post IV)

Chapter notes (IV)

Standaert likes metaphors to talk about university.

Here are his three: the pyramid; the pillars; the web (p. 88):

Unis

Left: the Medieval University; Centre: the Current University; Right: the Future University

The pyramid represents the medieval-renaissance university organised hierarchically to reflect the classification of knowledge (ibid):

At the bottom were the artes serviles (agriculture, surgery, military sciences) which were not usually taught at university; next came the artes liberales consisting of the trivium (grammar, rhetoric, dialectics) and the quadrivium (geometry, arithmetic, astronomy and music, all different disciplines belonging to mathematics), which were the foundation for the artes superiores: (Aristotelian) physics, ethics, metaphysics and theology, respectively. Theology, as a speculative science concerning the coherence of things, was considered the “Queen” of the sciences …

This kind of university was based on the practice of the disputatio, a public debate in which students from across the university engaged.

The pillars represent the university of the enlightenment in which nation-states began to form and the Church separated from the State. Mathematics thus became the “Queen” of science (p.89):

In the structure of a modern university, theology, philosophy, language and literature, mathematics, physics are all separated from each other in distinct faculties and departments with their own study programme adapted to their own discipline

Knowledge became transmitted vertically and in silos becoming increasingly specialised and increasingly secular, and “universities were increasingly distinguished on the basis of their national character: empirical in Great Britain, rational in France, idealistic in Germany. Professors only taught in their own national language at their own university” (p. 90).

The webbed university is currently emerging from or morphing out of the pillars. It “entails fundamental structural changes from a vertical towards a more horizontal approach” (ibid). This has seen siloed disciplines becoming more interdisciplinary. For example, medicine no longer engages in the discrete study of body parts (anatomy) but is part of a broader ‘life sciences’ programme which is more dynamic and holistic in which the study of ‘anatomy’ is replaced with the study of ‘blood cell producing organs’. This dynamism extends to students studying abroad and to professors working across different universities and countries.Dew_on_spider_web_Luc_Viatour

The webbed university thus raises questions about ‘place’ and ‘space’, about its location. Standaert claims that this kind of university no longer has a place: rather, it occupies a networked space. This raises questions about the kind of network it wishes to be; about how it is going to organise its knowledge systems and where; about ethics, responsibilities, and accountability.

He suggests three further ways of conceiving the future of such a webbed, networked university (pp. 94-5):

  1. it could be ecological, quoting Ronald Barnett, the editor of this collection: “The networked university becomes the ecological university when it intends deliberately not merely too safeguard the public realm but actively too enhance it”;
  2. it could be a world-university, quoting Masschelein and Simons, in which “we are not mobilised, but slowed down and provoked to think”;
  3. it could be a public university, again quoting Masschelein and Simons, in which there is no teaching: “not teaching a lesson, but making things public, reading them before an audience, exposing them, making them present”.

Despite the differences in the approaches of these authors, they share the conviction that networked universities will be public spaces with attention to the world, to hesitation, to fragility, to the uncertain and unknown (p. 95)

Standaert envisions a networked university in which we do not only seek to explain “phenomena in terms of their causes and their effects” (which requires ‘counting’), but one in which we also seek to understand phenomena “in terms of the relations of the parts to the whole” (which requires ‘narrating’).

He thus sees the networked university as a potential site of great creativity where scientists can be novelists and novelists can be scientists. Standaert cites the work of Alan Lightman, who is both a physicist and novelist at MIT, to show how possible this vision is (p.97):

In doing science, even though words and equations are used with the intention of having precise meanings, it is almost impossible not reason by physical analogy, not to form mental pictures, not to imagine balls bouncing and pendulums swinging. Metaphor is part of the process of science

He sees a future in which students and researchers can meet in spaces where they can count as well as recount, creating transdiciplinary dialogues in mobile spaces that reflect landscapes of knowledge, not silos (pp. 98-100):

It is the space of what is uncertain, vulnerable, uncontrollable, or incomprehensible that is the mainspring of human action. It is the in-between-ness that makes people to encounter each other and that may constitute an essential part in the search towards a networked university

Post V will be on ‘The University as Fool” by Donncha Kavanagh ….

Reference

 

The Future University (Post III)

Chapter notes (III)

  • The idea of University in Latin America in the twenty-first century (MarioDíaz Villa)

Díaz Villa’s vision for the future university can be summed as follows (p. 70):

Whatever may be the type of knowledge [that a university produces], its production and innovation must not be regulated solely by economic laws. Knowledge must be socially useful, democratically distributed and relevant to solving the damaging conditions of the world

He argues that whereas in the past great thinkers like Cardinal Newman and Humboldt provided universities with a clear identity – based on science, faith, humanities, and ‘truth’ – the identity of today’s university is fluid and is more abstract.

This view can be best summed as follows (p. 62):

The university has ceased to be a place of public debate – agora or forum. In the process of change, the place of critique and wisdom has been converted into a market place, subordinated to being a business scene of knowledge, ready to offer to its clients the services and certificates which they require for the labour market. This has weakened the credibility of the historic meaning of the university in its creation and promotion of values.

  • The decline of the university in South Africa (Yusef Waghid)

The backdrop to Waghid’s argument is that, on the whole, South African universities are elitist. This is because of a complex web of socio-political interests which means that “universities do not adequately address inequities in terms of race, gender and disability, and do not contribute towards the eradication of global problems such as poverty, environmental degradation and conflict” (p. 72). His vision is of a university that is “the responsibility of a community of thinking”. Waghid thus draws on Derrida for whom a university which is autonomous (p.73):

must be able, according to Kant, to teach freely whatever it wishes without conferring with anyone, letting itself be guided by its sole interest in truth

Waghid is concerned that even when research at university is set up to deal with world-problems – is therefore ‘end-oriented’ -it may not actually be achieving those ends. This is because large corporations that invest in this kind of research are motivated by their own corporate goals. University research thus becomes instrumental in ways that do not actually achieve social change (p.74):

Does agricultural research in poor farming communities contribute to eradicating poverty when the produce is still under the control of the rich farmers who now become more entrepreneurial? Does research about democracy necessarily ensure that societies behave according to ideals of democratic action?

He calls for universities to take more risks, to become proper ‘communities of thinking’ so that the unimaginable can become imaginable and so that change can occur.

Academic writing

 

Derrida-by-Pablo-Secca

Jacques Derrida

Waghid refers frequently to writing and to the role that academic writing plays in a ‘community of thinking’. He quotes Derrida on p.77 who claims that:

this community of thinking must prepare students to take new non-instrumental analyses and transform the modes of writing, the pedagogic scene, the procedures of academic exchange, the relation to languages, to other disciplines, to the institution in general, to its inside and its outside.

The following quotes further reflect Waghid’s views (p. 81-2):

our students’ writings should be about what is desirable for society (in especially humanities and social sciences) with the possibility or readiness of departing from such practices if the situation arises – that is, advocating belligerence (provocative) in deliberations might not always be desirable for the public good.

and

… supervisors ought to be responsible human beings with regard to their students. Responsibility towards one’s students implies that one has to create opportunities for them to think, argue and write their texts. Writing is a truly laborious yet imaginative exercise. I have taught students to continue writing even though the comments they receive would at times not be as encouraging as they might have expected – a matter of exercising critique.

Reference

 

The Future University (post II)

Chapter notes (II)

Wheelan’s stance is that universities are sites where social justice should be furthered but that social stratification (drawing on the work of Martin Trow) means that this aim gets frustrated.

She also draws on Durkheim in arguing that universities should be sites of esoteric knowledge, aka known as abstract and theoretical knowledge. This is not the same as profane knowledge, which is practical. It is esoteric knowledge that provides a “discursive space for the unthinkable” (p. 41). She goes on to claim that success comes to those who have access to such knowledge, and, quoting Bernstein, that those who have access “will become aware that the mystery of discourse is not order, but disorder, incoherence, the possibility of the unthinkable” (ibid).

The purpose of a a universal system of education – hence the name ‘University’ – is to “prepare the whole population for rapid social and technological change” (p.42). This is not the same as the purpose of an elite education which is aimed at preparing a minority who will remain in minority circles; a universal system of education is also different to mass education whose purpose is to transmit knowledge on technical and economic issues so that leaders can do their jobs (this kind of mass education is what is also referred to as ‘vocational’).

Quoting from the Australian Department of Education Science and Training which claims the the mission of a liberal univeristy is to ‘develop generic skills and knowledge’, Wheelan responds (p.46):

The emphasis on generic skills, graduate attributes and employability skills at the heart of curriculum in higher education reflects the purpose of curriculum, which is to ensure students have appropriate dispositions and attributes for the labour market. Rather than participating in collective representations that make and re-make society, neoliberal visions of education privatise and commodify knowledge so that it is bought and sold in the credentials market as individuals make decisions to invest in their human capital, and employers to purchase their human capital.

She concludes her chapter by arguing that we need a ‘theory of knowledge’ to account for the purpose of University and to inform our curriculum designs. Having a theory of universal access and of student choice makes no sense unless we also have a theory of knowledge to guide students in their decisions. This theory of knowledge should be one that allows students to participate in debates and controversies in both their fields and in society. It should not be a theory of knowledge to enable them to do a specific job.

The first modern Chinese university is very recent, having been founded in 1895 and based on medieval European models. The authors argue that for this reason, the Chinese university shares many of the values of the west but is weak in two aspects: knowledge creation and rationality (p. 53) having defined its identity around normative aims such as the promotion of values set by the cultural elites.

After 1949, private Christian universities were replaced by Univeristies based around the Soviet model in which research was separated from the activities of the university per se. Widening participation after 1999 meant that the idea of the university had to be re-thought once again as it tried to balance expansion with quality (cf excellence vs equity referred to in the previous post).

Since then, the “idea of university in China has been neglected and marginalised in a series of performivity (Lyotard) excercises and the audit culture” (p. 55). There is hope, though, on p.57, because although

[a]ccountability and performivity have exerted considerable influence and even constraints on universities, […] institutional leaders can be brave in developing a public discourse as to what university should be responsible for. To engage openly with the public is a preliminary form of enactment of the idea of the university.

[my bold]

Reference

The Future University: ideas and possibilities (ed. Barnett 2012)

Chapter notes (I)

This post, and several to follow, is part of my readings on the purpose of university in the 21st century (two previous posts can be found here and here) and also of my preparations for a forthcoming lecture.

What I like about this edited collection is that it draws on international perspectives on higher education, thus going some way towards countering the tendency of some media discourses to foreground Anglo-centric predictions.

Rothblatt’s vision is one of a fluid university with networking possibilities (p. 25).

Post-war (1945) higher education in Europe and the US led to widening participation which disrupted the elite privilege of the few, but also brought with it ‘remedial’ approaches to teaching and learning with an emphasis on learning ‘skills’. This led to universities losing some of their autonomy as they tried to preserve quality (aka standards) as well as equity, an issue also broached by David Russell here.

The university of the future must reconcile quality (excellence) with equity. Perhaps this is already happening as students seek out ‘professors’ rather than ‘universities’ in deciding where to study, a phenomenon knows as Wandervogel in German.

Another possible future involves universities sharing courses across campuses and internationally, so that the loss of humanities or MFL departments, for example, becomes a local loss, not a global one.

No single idea [of the univeristy] prevails, but many exist. The extent to which they are actually operable […] is impossible to determine. Some see the essence of a university in Newman’s terms, or better yet, the essence of knowledge as excellence; others as discovery, others as the life of the mind. Still others speak of the university as an agency for problem-solving. Politicians want a commitment to economic development. Political activists see the transformation of society on partisan grounds. Conservatives prefer to speak of tradition. Ronald Barnett states the ideal as open discussion, the free exchange of views and respect for them (p.24)

Morley’s vision for the future university can be summed in her concluding sentences (p. 35):

There is a lot of talk about how higher education can contribute to wealth creation*. The University of the Future should also consider opportunity and wealth distribution.

*[Currently, the vision embodied in the UK government’s 2015 Green Paper]

She captures the current identity crisis as follows (p.27):

Higher education is caught between hypermodernism and archaism. It is characterised by the development of global, entrepreneurial and corporate universities and speeded up by nomadic public intellectuals. There are new student constituencies, literacies and modalities of communications. Borders are dissolving and academic (hyper)mobility is promoted. However, the hyper-modernisation of liquified (Bauman) globalisation, and edgeless universities (Bradwell) are often underpinned by the stasis, archaism and desiccation of poor quality employment and learning environments, unequal employment regimes, elitist participation practices and globalised gender inequalities. These factors are to deteriorate further in times of economic crisis.

Increases in tuition fees and audit cultures “can stifle creative thinking” (ibid); they also discourage access for the many, leading to social immobility and disempowerment. Moreover, any increasing diversity in the student population should also lead to increased diversity in assessment practices and to the inclusion of new literacies and modalities.

The future university “needs to strike a delicate balance by speaking to diverse generational and geographical power geometries while simultaneously safeguarding academic values and standards” (p. 32).

More notes on the other chapters  to follow.

Reference

 

 

 

 

When the personal, professional, and academic merge

Reflections on academic identity and football

Alongside being a teacher, a researcher, a co-guest-editor of a journal (and so on), I am also a parent to a little footballer.

He's only 11!

He’s only 11!

These identities are usually distinct, but now and then they somehow get tangled up.

Oh_What_a_Tangled_Web_We_Weave_(4402532534)

Oh_What_a_Tangled_Web_We_Weave_(4402532534)

Something has happened recently that has brought all of these identities together, and I’m trying to harness each identity to make sense of the same social event.

This is what has happened.

My 11-y-o plays for a local amateur football team. There have been accusations of bullying by some of the children and some of the parents. There is also an undercurrent of distrust and antagonism between the parents (and their children) and the coaches about all kinds of  decisions (strategies, positions, refereeing, etc.). The coaches (also local parents) are currently dealing with these issues.

Bearing in mind that we – parents and children – are all dealing with the same event, what I am finding intriguing is that there are 3 broad reactions to this same event:

  1. Those who are distrusting tend to have the following reactions:
  • they don’t accept that their child may have done anything wrong;
  • they get annoyed when any given decision is to their disadvantage (as opposed to weighing up whether it was a fair or reasonable decision in light of other reasons);
  • they assume that if we are playing away from home there is an underlying conspiracy by the coaches to ensure that nobody gets a Sunday lie-in;
  • they resent any re-configuration of players and positions;
  • they are suspicious of new-comers.

2) Those who are trusting tend to have the following reactions:

  • they would be mortified to know that their child was bullying another;
  • they openly acknowledge any unfair advantage to their team and praise the other team’s successes;
  • they accept that given the complex web of league games that take place across a county over the time available, scheduling matches can involve an uneven distribution of games at home and away;
  • they are oblivious to any wrong-doing (even where there is some);
  • they are open to new players and to giving each player a chance to play in different positions.

3) Those who just don’t get involved and either withdraw their children or turn up for games, but leave quietly at the end.

So, what do my different selves have to say about this same ‘event’ and how could each perspective help to bring a resolution to what is essentially ‘conflict management’?

My personal self: I see this football moment in my son’s life as a time of fun, happiness, friendship-building and friendship-negotiating, exercise, and to learn some pretty impressive skills. I also see it as a pain-in-the-neck for myself. I wish that the team culture were one of cooperation, trust, and awareness that it is a team, not a collection of individuals all vying to be top-dog. On the bullying issue, I have serious misgivings about what each one of us perceives as bullying versus unpleasant/annoying/rude behaviour (I think I am aware of the difference: I’m just not sure of the extent to which everybody else is. I also notice that different children react differently to the same aggressive behaviour, so part of the solution also lies in learning how to respond to a bully, and not simply how to ostracise one).

My professional self: pretty much the same as my personal self, but with the added insight that it is possible to get on as a team without actually having to like the people you work with. Once you know your role and remit, basic rules of politeness and respect for diversity should suffice. Such rules can also ward off – even prevent – a major blow-up.

My academic self: there is an issue here of what the purpose of being in a junior football team actually is. Is it to just have a kick-about and have fun; or is it to be a really good team with ‘aspirations’ (or both/other)? Either way, it is always about behaving and thinking as a team, as a whole. I see teams, understood as wholes, as being real entities that have properties which transcend their individual players, and that sometimes what is good for a team is not necessarily good for the individual. So, for example, to take an Archerian perspective, what can be meaningfully said about an individual cannot necessarily be meaningfully said about a team (ie an individual can be a bully, a team cannot). At whatever level, a football team, is a team. A coach needs to disentangle what is going to benefit the team as a whole vs the individual (with respect).

Not sure what to do with these reflections now … my next football fixture is Thursday. We shall see.